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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Growing number of grandparents raising grandkids

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Toni McClurg has two grown daughters.

She spent her 20s and 30s raising her girls, assuming that when they were adults her parenting years would be over.

But at 54, McClurg has found herself in a position many people her age have -- she is the primary caregiver for two of her grandchildren.

Since 2000, McClurg's two grandsons, Juan, 11, and Alex, 8, have lived with her. The family now resides in rural Greencastle, and the boys both attend Fillmore Elementary School.

McClurg took guardianship of the boys when her younger daughter, now 28, and the boys' father were both dealing with severe substance abuse issues.

"She brought them to me," McClurg said.

McClurg is not alone in her situation. According to the Web site grandparenting.org, in the year 1970, 2,214,000 children under 18 lived in grandparent-headed households, with the mother present in half of these households. By the year 1997, this number was reported as 5,435,000, or 7.7 percent of all children in the United States.

"Although official census estimates made in the year 2000 hint the number to be more than 6 million, it does not present the full picture," the site said. "We estimate that the number of children being raised by grandparents in America today, part- or full-time, is now close to 8 million."

Through the years, McClurg has met many other grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. She is organizing a support group, which will meet for the first time at her home on Nov. 18.

"I'd like to eventually go non-profit," she said. "I need to find someone to help me write grants."

Another of McClurg's visions is to help bring about changes in legislature that would allow grandparents who are raising their grandchildren to receive more state and federal aid.

"If I hadn't taken the boys; if they had gone into the system, someone would have been getting money for them," she said. "A lot of times, comfortably retired grandparents end up going through all their retirement savings when they become guardians for their grandchildren. I want to lobby to change laws. I want it to be easier for grandparents to receive the benefits that foster parents get."

Aside from the financial aspect, raising grandchildren can alter other areas of a person's life.

"It changes your whole social life," McClurg said. "I can't really date, because my grandchildren come first. And most men my age are done raising their kids they don't want to start over."

McClurg, who runs her own cleaning business, said she does have strong family support. She has a sister who lives in the area, as does her older daughter and her family.

"My daughter is real strong and has been a tremendous help," McClurg said. "She has problems with her sister, but she knows this is what's best for the boys."

Their situation has taken a toll on Juan and Alex, who are both in counseling to deal with anger and abandonment issues.

"They do love their mother," McClurg said. "But as they get older, they do wonder why she's not raising them. Juan has ADHD (attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder), but he excels at sports. Alex is a straight-A student, but he acts out with anger."

The boys' caseworker is Hazel Proctor of Cummins Behavioral Health.

"I've been compiling numbers, and so far I have 38 grandparents in our area who are raising their grandchildren," she said. "For Putnam County, that's a huge number."

In counseling, Proctor sees grandparent-raised children who have a number of issues to deal with.

"Many times, it boils down to the grandparents overdoing it out of guilt," she said. "Whether the parents aren't there because of death, incarceration or some other reason, the grandparents want to do everything for the child because they've already been through so much. These children get into a loving, stable environment, and they don't know how to adjust. Their problems actually stem form the fact that they've been given everything -- they don't have an appreciation for what they have or for working for things."

Children being raised by their grandparents are also acutely aware that their caregivers are older than their parents.

"They worry about what will happen to them when Grandma or Pawpaw dies," she said.

Even with all her struggles, McClurg has never regretted taking in her grandsons.

"People tell me they couldn't do what I've done, and I just think, 'What do you mean you couldn't do it?'" she said. "They're my grandchildren. What else was I going to do?"

McClurg smiled, looking much younger than her 54 years.

"The benefits far outweigh anything else," she said. "I still have two little boys. I get to wake up on Christmas morning, and they're there, so it's still exciting. They keep me young in mind and body."

For more information about the Nov. 18 meeting, call McClurg at (317) 412-6413.

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You could pursue the parents for child support. Even though they've abandon the boys doesn't dismiss their responsibility to provide financially for them.

-- Posted by beachbum on Mon, Nov 10, 2008, at 6:49 AM

I do not have my grandsons living in my home, but I do provide most of the money to purchase their clothes, shoes, extra money they need for school projects, etc. My daughter no longer has custody of these two young men and because she is not able to pay much in child support. The father and stepmother of my grandsons expect me the maternal grandmother to furnish much of their clothing, etc.

-- Posted by Taxpayer5253 on Mon, Nov 10, 2008, at 5:10 PM

I know of many grandparents in this county that are providing for grandchildren and then great grandchildren-I feel it is fine to help your children with their children's needs but, so many grandparents are enablers.If, you keep handing someone money and paying their bills what incentive do they have to get on their feet and work like the grandparent who retired from their major career and now working another full time job to raise grandchildren? The adult children use their children as their ace to get what they want out of the grandparents because the grandparents love their grandchildren.There is alot more of this going on than most folks realize.Actually I consider this abuse to our elderly being taken advantage of.A growing problem and worse in this community than you might think. No wonder parents of these children have time to party and drink and use drugs.They are getting a free ride.

-- Posted by bam on Thu, Nov 13, 2008, at 6:45 AM

She's right it's better to ask for hand outs from the government. You could not raise your child why try these.....

-- Posted by can't_understand on Thu, Nov 13, 2008, at 9:53 AM

God bless Mrs. McClurg and the boys.

-- Posted by Dagnabbit on Thu, Nov 13, 2008, at 1:28 PM

Why should taxpayers have to foot the bill for grandparents choosing to raise their grandchildren. MOst the time it is the grandparents that enable the problems anyway. I work to hard to pay more taxes to deadbeat parents.I wish I could receive some finacial aid for my kids. But, since i am not on drugs and I choose to stay married we are penalized.

-- Posted by blonde bombshell on Sat, Nov 15, 2008, at 8:54 AM

At least with the children in their grandparents custody they are somewhere familiar. If they went to foster homes you'd have to pay for that too Bombshell. Suck it up and pray you never need assitance, because its people like you who turn their noses up to the rest of the world.

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Mon, Nov 17, 2008, at 7:58 AM

My parents raise my brother's kids, and though my father works for a major company making good money, in a few years he will retire, and those 3 kids will still need money to be raised on. With my mother already receiving her social security, and my father's social security/pension not being anywhere near what he makes working, they are still going to need money. Understand, blond bombshell, that these people are subject to need based on income just like anyone else that receives financial help. Foster parents taking these kids in would cost you money, anyway, so why not keep the enviornment a familiar and familial one, instead of having to live with strangers? I, for one, believe that grandparents should not feel guilty for the decisions that their children make. It is not necessarily poor parenting that a bad child makes... These now-grown children make there own mistakes, and must pay for them, not the innocent children.

-- Posted by caaricha on Wed, Nov 19, 2008, at 7:38 AM

I am always pleased to hear of grandparents or other family members stepping in to raise children that otherwise would be neglected or placed in the foster care system. After all (and I think we forget this in today's society) that's what "family" is all about! As a hard-working tax payer, my reaction to subsidies and government aid tends to be a negative one.However,in speaking to kids prior to writing my soon to be released "tween" novel, Grumble Bluff, I found that children feel more secure with their grandparents than they do with a non-relative who is being paid to give those children a home. It is a tough issue, and it needs to be addressed. My best wishes to Mrs. McClurg, and I hope we hear more about this issue. Karen Bessey Pease, roomtomove@tds.net

-- Posted by Karen Pease on Sat, Nov 22, 2008, at 2:40 PM

I AM unlike many of you who had an opinion - a grandmother who is raising two small grand daughters. They did not come into my care because I failed when I was raising my daughter. I did everything I could to instill the right morals and values in her, she grew up in a stable and loving home but she did have adhd and suffered from clinical depression. Once she was of legal age, I could no longer control her actions nor will I take blame for it.Her children are the victims in all of this.They did not ask to be born and they deserve a loving home to grow up in, and deserve to know their birth family.

Did I plan my life out this way? no - but I could not and would not see them raised up in the system and ending up with many more problems than I believe they will have raised in my home. It is very easy to pass judgement on the grandparents when you do not walk in our shoes.

When a child is in Foster care that foster parent gets EVERYTHING taken care of from transportation to child care costs ( in Canada it is over 800 a month per child )to a delivery person to take that child to and from appointments. There is no support for the grandparents once they take custody of the children.

I agree that family should be exactly that, so it was not a thought to do what needed to be done in the best interests of the children and the fact that it causes such controversy simply tells me how fractured the family has become, in today's society. This "me first" mentality is a pitiful fall from a time when families took care of each other.

-- Posted by ksong on Sun, Jan 25, 2009, at 10:51 PM

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